Where Would I Be Now If I Had Remained an Atheist
by Matt Rawlings
I just finished reading Pat Buchanan’s new book The Greatest Comeback (Crown Forum 2014) (it is a must for fellow political junkies!). I am now slowly working my way through The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014). I picked up on a theme from the media during the press junkets for both of these works and that is, “Wasn’t Nixon so calloused!”
I can see how people can be taken aback by Nixon’s comments about individuals and groups he dismissed out of hand as “enemies.” But it hasn’t struck me this way because I was just as cold and contemptuous of “enemies” when I worked in politics and it was largely because I was an atheist.
I know such statements anger non-believers and I really don’t want to do that but I will try to be as honest as possible. You see, I tried to be a consistent skeptic. If you pressed me on certain issues like the origin of the universe or what to make of consciousness, I would simply shrug. I had
faith in not knowing but believed there was no way the Bible could be true and that Christianity just didn’t work. Moreover, since I did not believe in a supreme being, I did not see how there could be objective morals. I agreed with Atheist journalist S.T. Joshi who wrote in The Unbelievers (Prometheus Books 2011), “Offensive as it may be to many, it is a brutal truth that everyone’s system of morals is merely a bundle of preferences that, insofar as they are preferences, are logically shielded from refutation.”
So, as a political hack who worked two Congressional campaigns, two mayoral campaigns and then logged two years as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill, I believed that the “right thing to do” was what worked and you could get away with! Tangled up in my “bundle of preferences” was the belief that big government had always been the enemy of freedom (which I also placed in my bundle) and that the Constitution should be interpreted using nothing more than authorial intent as otherwise it was too open to abuse. I saw liberals who thought otherwise as, to steal a phrase from Nixon, “gibbering idiots” who were naive, power-hungry and historically ignorant.
As such, I was truly a Machiavellian political hack. I hated to lose. I hated to lose more than I wanted to win and there’s a difference. I look back on my time in politics and how hyper partisanship has created a perpetual scandal culture in Washington, D.C. I think if I hadn’t been driven to my knees by a cancer scare that I could very well have landed in jail at some point.
Now, please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that…
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